Real Talk

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I’m trying to be civil, but it is becoming increasingly difficult.

I’m trying to accept that some people simply don’t know what they don’t know; but sometimes I think they don’t want to know?

I’m sorry – not sorry – that if one more (white) person tells me that navigating this issue of systemic racism is exhausting and uncomfortable, I may “lose my religion” (you can ask one of your southern friends to translate, if you don’t know what this means).

Please be assured that your discomfort does not mean that you are in danger. And it can’t begin to compare to the “discomfort” (which could be related to actual danger) that Black and brown folks experience each and every day. And don’t even get me started about the exhaustion.

Anyway, while I pause to restore a little decorum, I have given some inquirers a few things to ponder/research:

  • The Civil Rights Movement never ended.
  • Racism is systemic (but that doesn’t exempt individuals from being racist).
  • America was founded on genocide, slavery, and oppression.
  • We are still dealing with the lasting effects of slavery and America’s (fictional) view on race.
  • Forty-one slave owners signed the document declaring “all men are created equal.”
  • Abraham Lincoln declared that “there is a physical difference between the white and black races” which “will forever forbid the two races from living together on terms of social and political equality.”
  • White supremacy is not confined to cross-burnings, lynchings, and using the n-word.
  • Black folks and white folks have been taught the same revisionist history.
  • Black and brown lives have been minimized in a number of ways, including redlining, the war on drugs, gerrymandering, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, accessing quality healthcare and securing equitable educational opportunities.
  • Black and brown people are still fighting for their full humanity.

And if that isn’t enough, help me answer this question: Why do white folks want to jump over the hard personal work of mitigating the impact of white supremacy to get to (half-baked) “solutions”?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

40 responses to “Real Talk

  1. Well my dear friend. Powerful words are placed in this article that you wrote. Powerful feelings are expressed in this article that you wrote. Most of all the Powerful Truth was written in this article you wrote. As Dominicans and having Veritas as our powerful word we are dedicated too, I am so grateful that you spoke your truth and are calling us to embrace our truth.
    Sometimes I just need to be reminded of the truth I embrace and the truth where we all need to be.
    Thank you for saying what is on your mind. I stand hand in hand with you. Well done.

  2. As I read your blog and now I keep thinking WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG? So many stories come to mind — I want to share some with you.

  3. Collette, thank you for the way you engage us while you speak the truth in which you stand. Would that we could all do that together. Perhaps it would free us from the bias that holds us captive.

  4. Dear Connie,
    Hope you know that we, your Dominican sisters of Peace and Associates are with you. It is the “Truth” that sets us free”. Racism has a long history and will take a long time for healing. So please believe your sisters are grappling with the issue and will continue to do so with God’s grace to make the necessary changes we can. Thank you for your blog and blessings and peace.

  5. Many thanks to each of you for reading this Holy Spirit inspired blog. It is sometimes difficult to “lay bare my soul.” Your comments affirm, for me, the power of the Holy Spirit and the fact that God is spiritually active in our world today. I am so humbled by and grateful for God’s favor. As one of my wise spiritual directors says: “You are in my will, meaning I will pray for you.”

  6. Amen, Amen, Amen!

    Discomfort is understating the reality for sure. You want to know what unceasing prayer looks like, speak to a mother of a Black son or daughter in their younger years. In those years where mistakes and miss steps will happen. When they are still taking risk that for white kids can be seen as “kids being kids” but criminalized for children of color. Try to imagine the internal thunder of your heart pounding through your chest as your child leaves the house, that you in turn must learn to calm or become overwhelmed by anxiety and fear to a point of insanity. The only real tethering you have to any hope is in the Lord – that the Lord will protect your babies and give you the strength to live through whatever “may” happen due to the “free will” or people who see them as less than… Yes unceasing prayer is a reality you better know or loose your mind. So again Colette, I say Amen and thank you for saying what many of us are feeling.

  7. Thank you Colette, for honesty & truth. I hear & appreciate your anger & frustration, as well as your teaching.

  8. Colette,
    I will ponder each word expressed. I also hurt in my being as I read your message. I will work on ME, Individually, and with my encounters with all humanity. Thank you for preaching the TRUTH.

  9. Thank you. This is a challenging and very important message. The Black Lives Matter movement must strengthen and grow.

  10. Thank you, Colette, for the thoughtful and troubling blog. We are such “fixers.” In so many areas, we try to repair / fix the exterior symptoms rather than do the more difficult work of addressing the interior causes. As Jesus reminds us, “some can only be driven out with prayer and fasting” – the interior work. The video about Amy Cooper’s “attack” has been a turning point for me:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/05/28/christian-cooper-harvard-birdwatching/ .
    God, help us to see!

  11. Well Colette, you did it again. You disrupted my comfortable, ignorant white person’s spot. The one where I believe it was somebody else who started all this superiority, this white-privileged life I have. My white ancestors may have started this terrible divide, I’m just struggling with how to live in it and do the homework you talk about. I’m trying to face reality. I think it requires me to hear you and see you, love you as my sister. To see black and brown people, see them, hear them, and love them as my sisters and brothers. And not people with brown or black skin as “other”. I listen to the words of John Lewis and be inspired to see our world as he saw it.

    Keep writing, Colette, I’m listening.

  12. Colette,
    We. the DSOP Associates on the Northshore of Lake Ponchartrain in Louisiana, (New Orleans is on the Southshore) have been studying the book, “White Fragility” one chapter at a time. The most important thing I’ve learned thus far is that it is up to white people to initiate the needed systemic change because we are the ones with the power, legally in the criminal courts, in the Capital, in business, and in academics. Many whites fear losing that unearned advantage, but to follow Jesus we must not maintain the unjust status quo. There are many cultures around the world, but only one human race. I am praying that our country will finally be one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. Amen!

  13. These are conversations that we must have. Will they be difficult? Most likely. But we must have them anyway. As white people, we must -must- recognize our privilege and acknowledge the effect it has on our brown and black sisters and brothers. I shouldn’t assume, but my guess is that those who are “exhausted and uncomfortable” are finally realizing this. I am embarrassed and ashamed at how long it took me to fully realize this myself. I am trying hard to make up for lost time.

  14. I could offer a simple,”AMEN!” but I can also think of a couple more items needed on your litany, like:
    Church leaders and institutions in the USA were also involved
    Church history seems to lose sight of our great Black Saints and leaders
    and I suspect this list could grow!

  15. Great post Collette. Am currently reading Waking up White which seems to be a good and helpful read. Finished recently, White Fragility which is also excellent. We white folk have work to do.

  16. I hear your frustration and anger, Colette, and I understand (to the extent that I can) and accept it. You should not have to listen to any of these things. The work of dismantling racism belongs to us white folks, as it was our people who invented it and it is we who continue to benefit from it (whether intentionslly or not). Our job is to do our homework, study, research (whether via films and documentaries, articles, or books) and learn without relying on you to educate us. I have just finished White Fragility (Robin Diangelo) and am part way through How to be an Antiracist (Ibram X Kendi). Learning a lot of history from the latter that I disgracefully have never known. Who better than Dominicans of Peace to seek the truth of our own complicity in your oppression and use what we learn for true peacemaking? Thank you for speaking your truth xto us so clearly and firmly.

  17. Cause we (white people) haven’t had to live with generations of racism targeted against us. But some of us are trying to help bring about real change. Don’t give up on yet please. We know racism is a sin.

  18. Thank you. I hope to listen to more real talk. This evening in upstate NY the Capital Region is launching an anti-racism community training initiative. The first event is a conversation with Ibram X. Kendi, professor at Boston University and author of “How to Be an Antiracist.” Follow-up in August includes a 21 day racial equity habit building challenge. Colette, I hope you will continue to blog and speak truth.

  19. Thank you !!! Reality is hard to fathom. Change will only come with wisdom and conscious hard work.

  20. Thank you, Colette, for your willingness to do some truth telling with us. We need it, and I am grateful to you for it.

  21. Colette,
    There are many out there who “don’t want to know.” You can give them the historical data, you can suggest articles and books, and you can make every attempt at leading them into the light. However, what it comes down to is their abject failure at seeing past the proverbial nose on their face. Why that is, is beyond me. Are they afraid that understanding the structural racism built into our society will cause them to lose something of value (i.e. their privilege)? I just don’t know.

  22. Thanks, Collette. I appreciate all you’ve shared and find a lot to reflect on. I am so glad you are part of the mission of the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

    1. I am quite familiar with Hampton’s work, which racializes culture. Although culture and the racial construct sometimes overlap, they are essentially different. There are certainly many schools of thought on the social construct of race. I do not subscribe to Hampton’s notion of a pathological black culture which, in my estimation, he fails to put into context with the culture of poverty and American culture in general. Needless to say, I would never pay for his book; but I am thankful for public libraries.

    2. MC, I wish you had included your name on this post. And I wish you were not advocating for a book that apparently blames black people for the racism that has killed and continues to kill them in so many ways. I find your statement deeply troubling and hope you choose to pursue the truth that Colette is trying to communicate to us.

  23. Wow, Colette, thank you so much for your honesty and for the challenge we all need to hear. Keep allowing the Spirit to guide you to educate all of us. You are a gift to our community. God Bless.

  24. Colette, you speak Truth–thank you for your courage . . .
    and your persistence. You are doing what John Lewis said:
    “Stand up. Speak up. Speak out.”

    And if you need to lose your religion once in awhile,
    it’s okay!

  25. Collette thank you. We at the college are engaged in a discussion of the book entitled “So you want to talk about race”. It is written by a Nigerian author, Ijeoma Oluo and she sounds like you. She lays it on the line, is tired of all the excuses and needs to see action. She begs for honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect
    every aspect of American life. If you want to see a mirror image of yourself, get this book. I think this book is a landmark book for our times. Thanks for speaking your truth.

    1. Oluo does offer some great lessons and insights in her work. I am honored to be mentioned along with her. I certainly do want to be part of honest conversations about how this social construct of race impacts our lives each and every day because I believe those conversations will lead us to a place where we can embrace all of humanity.

  26. Thanks,Collette, for your thoughtful insights. I appreciate it. I have just finished two NY Times bestseller books, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo and How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X.Kendi. The White Fragility book gets to the heart of white defensiveness and our complicity with the more subtle or underlying themes of white supremacy. As Dominicans in our search for truth, we can help ourselves and others get to the heart of these difficult questions.

  27. Dear Colette,
    I understand that I do not understand, however I stand with you. The way history has been taught from the beginnings of the nation is reprehensible. We white people are responsible for our own un-learning and re-education. I’m trying to educate myself through a webinar being offered by the American Friends Service Committee entitled “Radical Acting in Faith for White People”. And I’m reading “How to Be an AntiRacist.” What a very long way we (and I!) have to go. We – ALL of us – can’t afford to avoid the difficult, challenging and exhausting personal work that’s necessary. We’re all in this together and we’d better wake up and realize it!

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